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fresh sheep's milk cheese

Regarded as the ancestor of pecorino, there are three kinds of Caciofiore in the Ark of Taste. One is the Caciofiore di Foggia (Puglia), and the second is the delicate and recently revived Caciofiore aquilano, made with sheep's milk from the mountains around Aquila (Abruzzo) and a vegetable-based rennet made from an infusion of the flowers of the wild cardoons or artichokes (Carlina acaulis or Cynara Cardunculus) and coloured yellow with saffron.

The third kind is the Caciofiore della campagna romana, made with raw milk and a similar wild artichoke/cardoon rennet and produced in the Riserva Naturale di Decima Malafede outside Rome.

It's also known as Caciofiore di Columella, after the 1st-century Roman agricultural writer, Lucio Giunio Moderato Columella, who described the cheese in his De Rustica, in 50 AD:

It is better to curdle the milk with lamb or kid rennet, although it is also possible to curdle it with the cardoon flower or with safflower seeds or fig latex. Anyway, the best cheese is made with as less treatment as possible.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: caciofiore di